Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bits and pieces

I have officially eaten white rice four nights in a row and three lunches this week. I cannot explain to you how much Motswana love carbs. It's not uncommon to eat porridge, spaghetti, and bread all in one meal (all white, unfortunately). My host mother is literally trying to fatten me up, she told me so. They all want to be fat here and "look like the chief's wife". Statistically speaking, women tend to lose weight during PST and gain it during their service, so we shall see, but if my mother had her way I'd be eating about 3,000 calories a day in damn starch! I have to watch her and grab the plate away after about the fifth scoop of rice. Along with rice or spaghetti we have usually chicken cooked with spices, or beef (which I fricken love) that she cooks with spices, too. Super simple recipes but all pretty good, haven't had a problem yet except that she just gives me way too much and I never finish it. 

I don't know if I've touched on the bathing situation very well yet. Aside from taking bucket baths, which in all honesty I don't mind very much, we are supposed to take at least two baths a day. For pretty much anyone who knows me, is aware that bathing that much is a huge struggle and I had to lay it down right in the beginning, "Mma, I only bathe once a day". She just shook her head and walked away, and we've been swell ever since. Also, I dress roughly five thousand times nicer here than I did at home. Dresses pretty much daily, sometimes I really doll myself up with some mascara, I can see that ending pretty quickly, though. 

After class today (Friday) we got out early and they took us to the gym on campus and it was a blast. We all did yoga, basketball, ran, just blew off some steam after a week of being stuck in a classroom. After that we went to the bar right outside the college campus and it was even better. The locals were filming us in the bar because everyone was dancing and singing and acting crazy at 4pm. But, alas, we all have to be home before dark and all the zombies come out, so we left by 5:30pm. Great end to our first full week of PST. Here's to the next 9!

Oh oh oh, PS! They have great cheddar *flavored* popcorn. I don't care  if it's real cheese or not, as long as it tastes good, and it does. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A nine year old is my best friend.

Botswana- the country
Batswana- the people 
Motswana- a singular person from Bots
Setswana- the language of Bots, although practically everyone speaks English, especially the young.

I have been in bots for about a week, and at my host families for 5 days. My host family is comprised of my host mother Mesego, and her grandson Lesego, who also lives in the house. Lesego's mother and three other children live next door with her 87 year old mother, as well as a plethora of her sisters whose names I cannot and will not ever remember or be able to pronounce. The community has been incredibly welcoming to us and we've had quite a few ceremonies to meet city officials as well as chief of our wards. There are many wards within the village and each ward has a chief who is born into the role. Their job is to oversee their designated community.

Every volunteer gets a Setswana name from their families when arriving and community members will always ask your English and Setswana name. No matter what, after you say your Setswana name, they will laugh. I've realized they aren't laughing at me, it's just what they do. Most people get names like "blessed one" and "gift from God" but nope, I am Gaone which means young one. I like it, I think it's endearing and not cheesy, it's the name she calls her children. 
Things I've learned about Botswana....a vast generalization:
1. Motswana  women have hands of steel. They can pick up a metal kettle that that has boiling water in it and think nothing of it, while I, very clumsily try to pick it up with a towel while also trying to not light the towel on fire and swearing profusely. It's an ordeal. I'm pretty sure she takes baths in boiling water.
2. They LOVE cooking oil and salt. I've grease stained 3 articles of clothing so far. It's been 5 days.
3. I don't know if it's peace corps or bots, but we EVERYTHING. "Oh, you stood up...*clap clap clap clap*"
4. Get this, cows actually WEAR cowbells. And they are everywhere! I watched a little boy chase cows through my front lawn last night.
5. They love sorghum. I hate sorghum. I love corn flakes.
6. Donkey carts are an acceptable method of transportation.
7. Every single family is different. It's awesome comparing our homestays with other volunteers because often times they are quite different, for example: I have electricity, a stove, a fridge, a TV (although there is only one channel and I'm already sick of it), and my room is huge. Some people don't have any of that and some people have that plus more. Also, many people have had to kill their dinner with an axe...not my cup of tea. 
8. Walking around topless of near topless in front of PCV's is ok (luckily, I have not experienced this). 

I could go one for hours, but I will leave it at that for now. I barely have Internet so who knows when I'll even be able to post this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finally in Bots!

Dumela (Setswana for hello, which is all I remember so far)!

So the past few days have been crazy/awesome/scary and I love it. My PC group has 61 people in it, which is a huge group for Botswana. We all met on the 11th for what is called staging, in Philly. It was long, and quite boring. Buuuuut, we finally got to meet everyone in person, after SO MANY months of Facebook meetings! Crazy seeing people in real life, felt like I was meeting an online date. On the 12th at 2:30am they bused us to JFK where we sat in the airport until our flight at 11:30am. It was super long, but solid bonding time. My group is from all over the United States and the ages vary greatly as well. My fellow PCV's are all very welcoming and "normal", so that's a relief!

Ok, so 16 hours later we arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa. From there we took a flight to Gabarone, Bots which is the capital and where we have been staying. Our hotel here is definitely one of the nicer ones and we have all the amenities! Hot(ish/sometimes) showers, wifi, and yummy food. The are wining and dining us before the REAL show starts.

Tomorrow we take a bus to meet Serowe, which is our training city, and we meet our host family. We are all pretty scared, but excited. The families that host are usually very respected citizens in the community and it is seen as an honor and privilege to host a PCV. The houses are required to give us our own room with a lock, and they're job is to teach us the Botswana lifestyle, while we attend classes during the day with our group.  I may or may not have Internet, so of course I'm trying like hell to get as much in a possible (because that totally makes sense). 

It will be nerve wracking, but I know I am lucky to have really awesome fellow PCV's to be there with me. Also, even though our hotel has wifi, it's hard to find time to be on it because we are busy ALL day. We have barely left this hotel so tomorrow will be an adventure.  I'll try to post pictures and more interesting things about the culture when I have more time!